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Agencies tackling changing needs of caregivers

AGING MATTERS

Many years ago, I wrote an article about Maui’s unique sandwich generation and the supports that have developed over time to meet their needs. With the pandemic, their needs have changed as have the ways in which they can access resources of support.

The stereotypical “sandwich generation” are those women between 40 and 60 who care for both older parents and children living at home. In Maui County that picture is modified by the facts that our residents live longer, are less likely to live in skilled nursing facilities, and are more likely to live in multigenerational households than families across on the Mainland. And with an economy that has been hit hard by the pandemic, the face of our sandwich generation is changing even more quickly.

Let’s take a look at some familiar scenarios:

• A great grandmother with dementia lives with her daughter who retired early to care for her mom. Her granddaughter was just laid off at work and has moved in with her two children who are attending school virtually.

• An adult daughter or son has moved back to Maui from Oahu after being laid off to care for a mother who has severe diabetes and a grandmother who has congestive heart failure.

• A grandmother in her 90s was incredibly independent until March when her children and grandchildren insisted that they run all her grocery, pharmacy and other errands. They still worry about exposing her to COVID-19 and are diligent about always practicing physical distancing and wearing face masks.

• Grandma is now in charge of virtual school for the grandchildren. She has become very comfortable with online technology and is struggling to find nonscreen options for after-school activities.

Maui is rich with organizations that offer support. Though that support may look different from a few months ago, agencies are creatively tackling the challenges of safely providing Maui’s sandwich generation, older adults, and family caregivers with critical information and services. The following are just a few examples:

• Aloha United Way 2-1-1. This free, confidential service connects residents across the lifespan with resources and information targeted to your needs. The hotline is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week. The number is 2-1-1.

• AMHD Crisis Line of Hawaii. Hawaii’s Department of Health offers this free, 24-hour crisis line to support provides adults, youth, and children experiencing a mental health crisis immediate access to trained and experienced professionals. In Maui County residents can call (800) 753-6879 or text “ALOHA” to 741741 for support.

• Maui County Office on Aging. Older adults and their caregivers continue to receive information, support, and services through the MCOA/ADRC. To speak with a specialist call (808) 270-7774.

• Powerful Tools for Caregivers. This six-week educational series for family caregivers has been offered in Maui County for over 10 years. The first fully virtual series will run from late October through early December. To learn more, contact Heather Greenwood-Junkermeier, UH Manoa Extension, Kahului Office at heather8@hawaii.edu.

• Alzheimer’s Association, Aloha Chapter. The 24/7 National Helpline continues to support those caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s Disease by calling (800) 272-3900. Christine Spencer continues to provide support groups and educational programs virtually. To learn more contact her by email at cespencer@alz.org or by phone at (808) 518-6650.

• Maui Adult Day Care Centers. MADCC is a critical resource for adults who are no longer able to safely remain at home alone during the workday. It provides caregivers with peace of mind and respite necessary for them to continue working and caring for their own health needs. To learn more, contact them at (808) 871-5804.

If you or your loved ones are part of Maui’s sandwich generation, reach out today for information and services to support you through this pandemic.

* Heather Greenwood Junkermeier is with the University of Hawaii Manoa Cooperative Extension, Maui Intergenerational and Aging Programs. Aging Matters covers topics of interest to the aging Maui community and appears on the third Saturday of each month.

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